A Renewed Post

This is an old post.
Jan 12, 2011 8:25 PM

Futility Is the New Utility
by Benb Gallaher

I've got a bizarre amount of explaining to do, although not really TO anyone. That, I suppose, is blogging's raison d’ĂȘtre, but that doesn't really mean that much yet in my life with a dead computer and the fact that I've been paralyzed by financial desperation and the claustrophobic crescendo of January's abject stupefaction.

Yesterday and the day before that, people came and replaced our windows and did all sorts of sawdusty [Ziggy Sawdust?] things, so we showered in Bath (funny funny) at the YMCA (they'd given us a "2 WEEKS FREE!" membership for unspecified reasons) and tried to occupy ourselves, to some avail. I suppose that the windows aren't offensive, but gosh, do I ever miss their beautiful, unwieldy predecessors.

I attended a function today, amid a horrid blizzardy apparatus. I'm really good at attending functions when there's a blizzard happening. Other times, it's a crapshoot. That may sound flippant, but it's more apparent with each huge storm.

(DIGRESSION: Everyone that's known me in day-to-day life knows about my fixation upon people discussing the weather--not the weather per se, but people talking about it like they have some kind of handle on what's vaguely imminent at all times. Paid to lie, just like most policymakers [and, while we're being candid, most other grown-ups], meteorologists have categorically undue sway over and say in how life [insofar as any of us has one of those] gets conducted in their aftermath. Wouldn't it be weird if every person that you saw in a day were to predict some other element of your life in the immediate future? Like Miss Cleo, but inescapable?)

Oh, hold up.

(ADDITIONAL DIGRESSION: Speaking of Miss Cleo, and bringing us niftily if not neatly to an existing narrative that's rather in progress, my father went to see a psychic a couple of years ago. This itself is far from newsworthy, as people tend to do things like that. [Indeed, the attendant stigma of yore regarding psychics is possibly why the telephonic franchise of Miss Cleo herself was so popular, and its dissipation is probably why her star receded.] Anyway, this particular psychic told him that, in order to get a job, "your son with MS [that's me] needs to join Mensa. My folks offered to pay for it and everything, so I opted to ignore my decades-long distaste for people that think of themselves as being intelligent [which is just plain silly] and test for it.

There was a snow event, occurring on R. Stevie Moore's 57th birthday [January 18, 2009] and appearing in Maine shortly following the arrival of my very-wonderful friend Bridget Moore [no relation to R. Stevie], who not only was living in Boston while attending grad school, but also had agreed in advance to accompany me on the half-mile walk from our new-to-us house to the testing facility. "How great," I thought.

My predictions regarding that process merited my failure before the test even began. First, the snowfall began to intensify as if timed to coincide with our walk [I remain amazed at how people (like me) can actually take the weather really/actually/legitimately/sincerely/personally. Wow. That makes meteorologists into sinister henchmen rather than average guessers.]

Speaking of guesses and how awry some guesses go, it should be said that the distance was not what I had calculated. [Blind in my left eye, I have a distorted perception of depth. But that doesn't explain an error so egregious.] Instead of 0.5 miles, the distance was 1.6 miles. [I only learned that later.] And the snow started hurling itself at us, my already-large eyebrows transmuted to gigantic Narnia caterpillars, and Bridget graciously trudged beside me, asking only on occasion, "Are you sure that it's only half-mile?" I insisted with diminishing confidence and icicled eyebrows that it was?

By and by, Bridget and I hobbled across "the finish line," arriving punctually at the testing location [if memory serves, it was a Presbyterian church]. No matter what or which, however, there was some kind of emergency unfolding, with fire trucks and related trappings of emergency response [I'm pretty sure about this, but I could very well have been hallucinating by that point]. Bridget went into the chapel to study, while I went to the testing room in the church's fluorescent-lit basement [again, it's as I recall], feeling profoundly screwed up at how vividly surreal life had smelted itself into being. Time was passing spasmodically, lurching and skidding to such extremes that a person [like me] could grow woozy [like I did] just by watching the hands on the wall clock [like I was doing, compulsively]. And I was surrounded by either Mensans [eek!] or hopeful Mensans [eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!] under these willfully wearisome fluorescent lights, and we had to take this test that would somehow make a factual statement about our smarts. Curiously, we were given an "obvious" practice question [to boost morale? to ensure adherence to testing procedures?] as a prelude to the proper test.

I say to you now, with pride, that I gave it my best shot, and that I did not answer that sample question correctly. And I wasn't making any kind of statement other than, "Oh my effing WORD" by default. Everybody present thought that I was joking. I decided to go through with the test regardless, mostly because I wanted to explore maximally the alien feelings that were my only companion for this episode's duration. Anyway, we got a ride home from a very-gracious proctor-in-training, and I passed the damned test, but that did not discernibly affect my job prospects. Oh is the new zero—Join Mensa today!

Which brings us to the sadistic climatic tomfoolery of yesterday.)

On account of my illness, which is considered a disability (for which I would receive a pittance in perpetuity), I have been affiliated with Vocational Rehabilitation for about a year now. They don't know what to do about me and my inconsistent physical considerations (i.e., no restaurant or construction work), so not only have they adopted a default of blaming me for not having found work, but I have to resist at every turn their inscrutable wont toward placing me into positions in which I will definitely not succeed (I've pursued such positions with all sincerity, but have been met unfailingly with resounding lassitude.).

This is rather well-worn territory—plenty of people have behaved ignorantly and hurtfully toward me on a basis of things that they don't understand—but this is a STATE PROGRAM. This doesn't feel any better than the legion of occasions on which strangers have assumed my drunkenness because of my variable dexterity. Well, it feels worse, because it's the job of these people to take me seriously; they're paid to take me seriously—not to rest upon my shoulders the "fault" of my not getting paid.
So, I went to the newspaper for a Voc-Rehab-endorsed "interest interview." Even though that interview was not for any vacancy or available position, I was grateful for the opportunity to meet someone that was maybe capable of providing some insights. At any rate, the outdoor bluster began hours beforehand (thus necessitating a taxi ride to the interview; conditions were deteriorating so rapidly that, as I was en route, the decision was made to discontinue taxi service for the day). I met my Voc-Rehab contact person there. True to his doubting view of me, he certainly hadn't expected my appearance amid a blizzard, and I think that my being there (for lack of a better term) effed with him. It seemed to me that, throughout the meeting, he was actively pursuing any possible avenue for (a) proclaiming stratified demarcations between us, and (b) creating dissonance within me.

The friendly and warm-hearted gentleman with whom we met did indeed provide me with some insights, but they were retreads of prior insights. (It's difficult to project confidence when rejection becomes so routine.) I didn't have the heart to evaporate, but I couldn't see any reason why I shouldn't have done just that. As my contact person gave me a ride home, white-knuckling and scared stiff by road conditions, he was probably wondering about what had been gained by way of this exercise in "I told you so" hubris. Meanwhile, I sat in the passenger seat, thinking about how spite can motivate people in ways that they'd never foreseen.

Feb 18, 2011

11:58 PM 
if you had all your verbal gems minted, you'd be a vocablillionaire.

Feb 19, 2011
4:30 PM
where y'all comments at? does anyone else think that, when we get to the airport, we should sign a release form, get into huge smocks, and get knocked the expletive out until we arrive at our destination? the airlines would save a fortune! we'd live to overripe old ages!

4:49 PM
If possession is nine-tenths of the law, and "possession" is a 10-letter word, then could it stand to reason that 'possessio' is nine-tenths of possession'?

4:50 PM
Julia said:

I for two would love the idea of getting into a slanket, being given my knock out drops, and waking up refreshed and halfway round the world, it seeming that no time had elapsed.Better than downing all the free booze pronto and spending the flight passed out on the restroom floor.

5:19 PM
Benb responds: That's assuming that the restroom floor will contain you. It rarely happens thus; consider all of the people whose lives are irrevocably altered (almost exclusively for the worse) by obstreperous behavior while aloft. Tedious rockstars (like the once-worthwhile peter buck, the often-worthwhile viv prince, and the never-worthwhile jim morrison) have had this problem with some regularity, but in a nine-twelve world, everyone's always wrong. So knock us out, onetime. Please.

1 comment:

  1. Though my foresight is not as esteemed as your average meteorologist, I believe I could have predicted the eventual diagnosis of genius in Benb Gallaher. He is one of those people you remember meeting, as I do. He was called upon at random(?) to define hypothermia, a word and concept heretofore unknown to me and he did so flawlessly as if reading the scout handbook verbatim. It wasn't the answer so much that impresed me but the way this kid, whom I knew nothing about, commanded the respect of some of the coolest older kids in my middle school with some nerdy factiod that just might save your life one day. I mean, they were oohing and quiety cheering him as if he had just made the questioner his bitch for daring to ask such a question. Of the many remarkable people to wear the 278 troop insignia, in my recollection Benb was the mad genius, MENSA bound, with no signs of winter storms impeding his progress. I wish you fair weather and look forward to seeing your writing become a lucrative career.